As the iconic yellow bus rumbles into our neighborhood on an early fall morning, my children greet the first day of school with a mix of emotions. Beneath their excitement over new backpacks and mingled with anticipation for the flurry of activities ahead, uncertainty brings a slight sense of unease to the transition. Where will I sit at lunch? the oldest, a high-school sophomore, wonders. Even the youngest of the four, a bubbly third-grader whose vibrant personality makes her a favorite among her peers, is not immune to these butterflies. Before stepping into her classroom, she turns back momentarily.
“Will they like me?” she asks quietly, her bright blue eyes wide and serious.
“How could they not?” I assure her gently.
Already I am planning for the classmates who will visit our home—many entering as shy strangers but leaving as “best friends forever.” Our family discovered the power of hospitality years ago, when we invited one of the children’s preschool classes for a casual luncheon. Understanding that most little ones prefer playing together to picnicking, I requested they pack sack lunches. Quilts spread across tables encouraged their mothers to linger, getting to know one another over a simple menu of harvest recipes. Reflecting on that afternoon of fellowship, realization dawns that we met three of our dearest companions in all the world during those blissful hours.
Each autumn affords similar opportunities for expanding our circle. Extend your hand, I urge my children, and you just might meet the hand of someone special. And what joy it is to venture down an uncharted path, arm in arm with a true friend.
—Melissa Lester, Associate Editor, Victoria magazine